“PE brakes” for CML 1952

CML1952-Brakes-Painted photo CML-1950-Brakes-03_zpsb9a55fd0.jpg

In September, I wrote about acquiring an S scale version of the NMRA’s tribute to Bob Hegge and his Crooked Mountain Lines. This tribute takes the form of a PRS boxcar decorated for Hegge’s famous freelanced interurban line, inspired by the likes of the Oregon Electric.

I was fortunate to find an unbuilt kit:
CML 1952 photo CML-1952-01_zps7239915d.jpg

While I’m a prototype modeller at heart, I’ve noted before on this blog that I have a soft spot for Hegge’s work. It greatly influenced my own journey in this hobby. So I’m happy to break my from prototype-mindedness, enact “Rule One”* and let this model roam the rails. I’m not sure what it’s doing in Port Rowan – possibly, it delivered a load to Montreal or a point further east, and it’s been grabbed by the CNR to deliver another load en route to its home in the northwestern United States.

I’ll figure that out. In the meantime, now that the kit has had a couple of months to “acclimatize” in my layout** room it’s time to build it. When I acquired it, I decided that this car would look really neat with what I’ll call “PE Brakes” after the Pacific Electric, which used a modified brake rigging system on some boxcars to allow them to negotiate tight curves. The big change from the conventional arrangement is that the rod connecting to the brake staff does not run through the truck (between the wheels) to the B-end of the car: It’s mounted along one side sill to allow the truck to rotate freely. This required an extra lever and a bunch of hangers and adds visual interest when the car is viewed in profile.

Sunshine Models produced an HO resin kit at one time for the Southern Pacific B-50-13/-14 series of boxcar, and they did a PE version that included instructions for building the PE brake rigging. The kit is no longer in production, but I was fortunate that a reader of this blog came forward with a scan of the PE brake rigging instructions for me. I transferred these to my iPad and got to work:
CML1952-Brakes photo CML-1950-Brakes-01_zps749da5dc.jpg

The rigging took most of yesterday afternoon – in part because I had to translate instructions for a wooden prototype with fish-belly centre sills to a steel car with no fish-belly. The PRS kits come with a brake-rigging system that’s injection moulded in a single piece – piping, rodding, appliances, levers, hangers, etc., all in one. I cut away the piping and rodding, drilled holes in the various appliances to accept wire, and rearranged the pieces while trying to follow the PE instructions as closely as the different styles of frame would allow. I cut and sanded my own levers, and employed the common trick of cutting turnbuckles in half to use as clevises. There are three levers and a lot of clevises on this car.

CML1952-Brakes photo CML-1950-Brakes-02_zpsbf10c139.jpg

As the lead photo shows, I masked the sides to protect the CML lettering (which is the whole point of this particular car, after all) and then sprayed the frame (and the trucks, not shown) with tarnished black to blend everything together. I can now move on to building the rest of the car in the more conventional manner. In no time at all, this unique tribute to a personal influence will be rolling on my layout.

(*Rule One: It’s my layout)

(**Yeah, that’s it. I wasn’t ignoring the kit. I was letting it “acclimatize”…)

The sharp-eyed will note that the NMRA’s tribute car includes a build date that reads “NEW 11-33” – quite remarkable on a style of boxcar that didn’t exist until 1937! I always knew Hegge was ahead of his time…

6 thoughts on ““PE brakes” for CML 1952

  1. Wow – really nice work Trevor! LOVE rodding/detail shots – and it’s especially cool that a reader came through with the info you needed. Like you said – that’s certainly one of the benefits of blogging. I’m curious – what type of camera/settings do you use to take such beautiful & sharp detail shots? Maybe I missed a post about it somewhere?

    • Hi Chris:
      Thanks for the kind words (and welcome to the mutual admiration society! I really enjoy your new website).
      I use a Canon Digital Rebel T2i, and shoot at ASA 100. I dial the aperture down as tight as it will go and use the “aperture-priority” mode. I don’t use a lighting rig for many shots: Layout photos are taken under layout lighting, while workbench photos are taken at the bench, table, or whatever I happen to be working on.

  2. Hi Trevor. I always thought that I was the only one who admired Bob Hegge’s work! You did a nice job on the boxcar. Since I retired a few years ago, and living in the Philippines, I’ve become an “armchair modeler”. However, I did purchase a copy of Trainplayer/Tracklayer, and am now designing a railroad which I have named the Crooked Mountain Electric. Limited in some respects, but trains can be run on it. Keep up the good work, and hope to see more in the future. Before I go, have you scratchbuilt/kitbashed any electric engines/box motors, like Hegge?

    • Hi John:
      Thanks for the note and have fun with Trainplayer. I’m glad you enjoyed the boxcar – it’s always great to keep one’s hand in the hobby in some way, even if it’s through the virtual world.
      No, I have not done any box motors like Hegge’s. It’s always been on my list of things to do and I even have some Q-Car Company power trucks to do so. But other projects take precedence. One of these days…

  3. Trevor, I admire the level of detail you’ve accomplished with the brake rigging, and the distinction of the PE brakes on this car. I’ve put some brake gear under my rolling stock, but very few that are as sophisticated as what you did here.


    • Thanks Hunter.
      It really isn’t that sophisticated. A bit of wire here, a bit of styrene there. Lots of patience. It is something that’s a whole lot easier to contemplate if one only has 30 or 40 cars to do – as opposed to 300-400.

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